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Farmers' information needs, access and its impact: Evidence from different cotton producing regions in the Maharashtra state of India
Agricultural Systems  (IF5.37),  Pub Date : 2021-11-25, DOI: 10.1016/j.agsy.2021.103317
Vinayak Nikam, Arathy Ashok, Suresh Pal

CONTEXT

Access to information is crucial in decision making for viable and sustainable farm business. Thus, the farmers need different types of information from various sources to refine existing practices and adopt new technologies for yield and income advantages. Knowledge about farmers' information needs, access and its impact in different production contexts help in improving the effectiveness of extension and advisory services in the country.

OBJECTIVE

This paper examines the farmers' information needs, access to information from different sources and its impact on cotton output and value of output in two different regions having predominantly rainfed and irrigated production contexts.

METHODS

Household level survey data of 644 cotton farmers were collected using multistage sampling from two districts representing distinct production contexts in the Maharashtra state of India. Factors determining the access to information from particular sources were obtained using the Probit model. The impact of access to information was estimated using Inverse Probability Weighted Regression Adjustment (IPWRA).

RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS

The information needs of the farmers from the two regions were slightly different. In the Jalgaon district with predominantly irrigated cotton production, farmers receiving information from at least one formal source had a significant positive impact on cotton output and the value of output per unit area. While considering each formal information source separately, heterogeneity in impact was observed. Access to information from public sources and mass media had a significant positive impact on cotton output. Mass media sources played a significant role in increasing the value of output per unit area. Despite government and other agencies' efforts and better access to information in predominantly rainfed areas (Yavatmal district), information received by farmers could not produce the desired impact. It necessitates appropriate tailoring of information, specific for these regions; as general information failed to produce much impact.

SIGNIFICANCE

This is a holistic study about information dynamics in agriculture, covering information need to its impact in two different cotton producing regions. The study reflects the heterogeneous impacts of access to agricultural information considering different sources. It suggests the importance of region specific customization of agricultural information and emphasizes more role of public sources in provision of market intelligence. Study advocates efforts to effectively channelize agro-advisories through Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) and Information Communications Technology (ICT) sources.